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A Ten Point Plan for Fitness to Play
Arts Medicine Research Unit
Please read through the following carefully and try to follow all of the suggestions during your treatment and thereafter:
1. Never try to play through pain - stop beforehand.
2. Make yourself a manageable short programme of exercises to do prior to each episode of playing i.e. physical warm-up exercises away from your instrument.
3. Allow a few minutes to physically adjust after playing, i.e. cool-down exercises.
4. Ensure that your technique is as sound as possible allowing for individual physical proportions and level of experience. We strongly advise that you seek professional advice from your music teacher as part of this treatment programme - bad technique may become a habit and lead to further problems.
5. Ensure that you are as comfortable as possible when playing your instrument - check your own posture when playing (a full-length mirror may be helpful). Adaptations (e.g. chin rests, shoulder pads, supports, straps) are designed to help you so make sure that you take full advantage of what is available. Again it may be helpful to discuss this aspect further with your music teacher.
6. Always check the position and height of your music stand, chair, piano stool, organ mirror etc to ensure that playing is as comfortable as possible and that you maintain a "good" posture while playing. Changes made by others may not suit you and adjustments may be necessary.
7. Plan your practice sessions to allow frequent breaks in playing. It is important to stop before any discomfort is reached - kitchen timers or digital watches can be pre-set to remind you that a break from playing is advisable. Relax your muscled for a few minutes.
8. Your physical build may make some repertoire more uncomfortable for you. Respect this and design your repertoire and rehearsal schedules accordingly whenever possible. Try to play within your capabilities.
9. Your general lifestyle can affect your playing; make sure that you are eating and sleeping well. Vision and hearing can affect your neck and upper limb posture - have them tested periodically.
10. A Mixture of regular exercise (e.g. a sport of your choice) and relaxation will help you maximise your potential and reduce the risk of playing-related injury. Performing is stressful and tension can lead to pain and stiffness. There are many forms of exercise and relaxation techniques available - discuss which of them may be appropriate for you with both your music teacher and a member of our medical staff. Choose one that you enjoy - they are then more likely to help!
©Alison Kelnar MCSP SRP
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